08 September 2009

International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) condemns prosecution of Magistrate Garzón

Garzón was beginning to step on too many important toes. His recent investigations have opened up a real can of worms. From massive corruption within and the possible illegal financing of the Partido Popular (PP), the right wing Spanish opposition party, to the "systematic programme" of torture at Guantanamo". As Andy Worthington reports just today, citing Spanish daily El Periodico "Garzón is pressing ahead with a case against six senior Bush administration lawyers for implementing torture at Guantánamo."

There is what Worthington calls "another attempt to stifle Judge Garzón". Tomorrow Garzón has to testify before the Spanish Supreme Court in a criminal prosecution, as the ICJ calls it "for his investigation into crimes against humanity committed during and after the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Magistrate Garzón is being prosecuted before the Second Chamber (Criminal) of the Spanish Supreme Court for intentionally issuing an unjust judgment or ruling (the offence of prevaricación)."

"The case was initiated by a private complaint" from the Orwellian-sounding Manos Limpias, in reality a reminder to the Spanish that the fascist right in Spain is alive and well - see South of Watford for a pretty decent summary.

Meanwhile, "59 top judges across the world – from the International Commission of Jurists - presented a document at the United Nations calling for the case to be dismissed as ‘unjustified interference’ in Garzón’s work"

The ICJ document doesn't mince words, although this was passed over by the state broadcaster TVE with a one liner at the end of their news report stating that the ICJ had merely expressed 'support':

"The ICJ considers this attempt to interfere with the judicial process of particular concern since it concerns an investigation into crimes against humanity, which Spain has an international law duty to investigate and prosecute. The ICJ recalls that, under international law, legislation punishing crimes against humanity may be applied retroactively (Article 15(2) ICCPR and Article 7(2) ECHR), that no Amnesty Law (notably the Spanish Amnesty Law of 1977) can hinder their investigation and prosecution, and that statutory limitations are not applicable to such crimes."

“The investigations of Magistrate Garzón into allegations of crimes against humanity do not amount to malpractice that could justify disciplinary action, let alone criminal prosecution” affirmed Róisín Pillay, “The ICJ has communicated this situation to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers".

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